Avoiding the Cold

As winter rolls around, the homeless people of Seattle must find a warm place to stay


Photo by Lextrounce

For many Seattle residents, winter is a time of celebration. The most wonderful time of the year is welcomed by the masses as an occasion for ski trips, holiday celebrations, and tropical vacations.

However, for the homeless population in Seattle, it couldn’t be more of the opposite. The homeless community is bundling up for the worst part of the year. Some are lucky enough to find a spot in
the overcrowded relief shelters, but the rest of the homeless must either find a temporary place to stay, or deal with the freezing temperatures out on the streets. Seattle has been struggling with a homelessness crisis for a decade, but the past five years have been brutal.

According to the Seattle Times, there has been about a ten percent increase in the amount of people who live in parks since 2016, and the public service usage rate has gone up
by about thirty percent. Things got even worse during 2020, with the amount of tents in Seattle increasing by almost fifty percent.

Due to these reasons, Seattle’s city council has drawn local and national criticism for its handling of the homelessness rate in Seattle. The council’s solution was a program called JustCare. The goal of JustCare was to build more houses for homeless people, and open up free hotels. This seemed to work at first, but things began
to spiral out of control due to miscommunication between the tenants and landlords.

A year after the program started, only six out of the original seventy-eight people who participated in the JustCare program have permanent housing. Now, with winter approaching and the number of homeless people on the rise, the city council must quickly figure
out a plan of action. Last winter, Seattle was hit with a large snowfall on Valentine’s Day weekend, the most Seattle had ever seen in the month of February. Seattle’s homeless communities were hit hard by the extreme temperatures, losing six people to hypothermia in one weekend. The snowy weather was predicted the week before, and in response, the city opened up temporary shelters during the week. This seemed to be relatively effective, and is most likely going to be the same procedure followed this year.

There are also many ways for individuals to help the homeless this winter. One of the most impactful ways to help is volunteering at one of the many shelters or organizations around Seattle that serve homeless people. Some good places to start are Operation Warm, which provides winter coats to homeless people free of charge, or the Food Bank at Saint Mary’s, which is the primary food bank in the Central District. If someone doesn’t have the time to volunteer, there are still many other ways to help out. Donations of food, money, and clothes are always very helpful. Also, for those that are old enough to vote, make sure to research local candidates to see which ones have policies that will help Seattle’s homeless